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Ukrainian president prepares for election by banning Russian web sites — parliament member

May 16, 23:24 UTC+3 KIEV
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KIEV, May 16. /TASS/. Ukrainian President Pyotr Poroshenko is trying to provide the country with another topic for discussion ahead of the 2019 presidential election, said Verkhovna Rada (Ukrainian parliament) member Sergei Leshchenko who represents the Pyotr Poroshenko Bloc.

"The ban on social networks brings to mind authoritarian regimes rather than the fight against Russian propaganda," he wrote on Facebook. "Poroshenko understands the threats that the internet poses to him personally better than (former president) Yanukovich did. The presidential election is approaching, so after taming the television he has taken to the main source used to mobilize people," Leshchenko added.

According to him, Poroshenko seeks to provide the country with another topic for discussion ahead of the 2019 presidential election, making people "discuss his pseudo-patriotism instead of the fight against corruption."

"He will continue to come up with new ideas to create an illusion that he is the one fighting against the Russian aggression. At the same time, he will continue to push for the destruction of the National Anti-Corruption Bureau of Ukraine," the lawmaker added. "It is called ‘changing the country’s agenda’. In order to have everything done by 2019, he has to start right now," Leshchenko said.

He also pointed out that there were "ways to combat Russia’s influence within social networks." "Simply put, it is necessary to set up check points instead of destroying roads," he said.

The next presidential election in Ukraine is scheduled to be held in May 2019.

On Tuesday, Poroshenko signed an expanded blacklist consisting of 1,228 Russian individuals and 468 companies. This time, a number of the Russian State Duma (lower house of parliament) members, judges of the Russian Constitutional Court, journalists and TV channels have been added to the blacklist. Besides, sanctions have been imposed on several Russian companies, including 1C, ABBYY and their Ukrainian subsidiaries. In addition, Russia’s VKontakte and Odnoklassniki social networks, Mail.ru and Yandex internet companies have been banned.

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